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Senegal opposition protest with sauce pans to show discontent ahead July's legislative vote

Protest in Senegal   -  
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SEYLLOU/AFP or licensors -

Senegal

People in Senegal heeded a call by the country's main opposition to bang on saucepans and honk their car horns on Thursday, in a noisy protest ahead of next month's elections.

A day after the opposition said it would halt street protests and take part in the July 31 legislative vote, people took to their balconies to bang on kitchen utensils to show their discontent, AFP reporters said.

Tensions have been rising in the West African state ahead of the vote, seen as a key test for President Macky Sall.

The ballot is for the 165-seat National Assembly, where Sall supporters wield a majority.

Three people died in outlawed demonstrations on June 17, according to opposition figures, and the authorities slapped a ban on a further protest called by the opposition for Wednesday.

Hours later, the leading opposition figure, Ousmane Sonko, said the protests were being halted "following appeals from the public, which expressed its concern over the (Muslim) festival of Tabaski" on July 10.

But Sonko, who had already called for a similar show of discontent on June 22, called on people to stage another noisy protest on Thursday.

The opposition claims that twice-elected Sall is seeking to extend his time in office, even if the president himself has remained vague on the subject.

Sonko came in third in the 2019 presidential elections and has already declared he will run in the 2024 ballot.

Senegal has a general reputation for stability in a region where political turbulence is widespread.

But the country was shaken by several days of rioting in March last year, claiming around a dozen lives, after Sonko was accused of rape.

The political mood darkened again after Senegal's paramount court on June 3, citing technical grounds, tossed out the first-choice election candidates submitted by the opposition coalition group, Yewwi Askan Wi.

Declaring the move to be politically motivated, the group's leaders called a protest on June 17.

In addition to the three deaths, around 200 people were arrested, the opposition said.

Two lawmakers were among those detained, one of whom was handed a six-month suspended term on Monday, while the other was released.

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